By Lieutenant General (rtd) Denga Ndaitwah
FUNDAMENTAL Human Rights and Freedoms are keys for democracy. And it is against that backdrop that, Chapter 3 of the Namibian constitution is the only chapter that cannot be amended. That is a clear manifestation that Namibia fully respects and adheres to the principles of democratic governance and practices. However, while fundamental human rights and freedoms are enshrined and entrenched in the Namibian Constitution, it is worth analysing it from the practical point of view. It is only after unbiased analysis that one would be in a better position to conclude with a degree of accuracy that Namibia is respecting and adhering those principles.
Despite the fact that Namibia made all the constitutional provisions that are required for the democratic governance, it is essential to underline that democracy is not about participation in the political arena and landscape only. It is not about how many votes political parties received. Democracy is not about whether election was free and fair. The above mentioned aspects are just tips of an iceberg. Democracy starts with the political will and appealing message the would-be elected representatives are imparting to the electorate and what to deliver to the electorate after voted to power. That is so because democracy is not edible as people do not eat democracy in their homes, they eat food.
Democracy on its own does not guarantee much wanted developments by the electorate. Electorate would want palpable and perennial end-states developments after they have given the mandate to whatever political party. Democracy demands the highest manifestation of effective good governance and accountability to the people. In this case, effective and good governance and accountability are challenges that political leaders will have to face in order to ensure that democracy is alive and functioning as designed for.
It is therefore, important to note that, in order to address challenges within the democratic setting, the political leadership must be able to define, understand and set achievable democratic goals and objectives. In this context, well-versed human capital that is capable and able in formulating, implementing and evaluating democratic policies and goals are critical. Strategic ways and means aiming at ensuring effective service delivery as yardsticks for democracy are yet another critical aspect otherwise democracy will culminate into democratic fallacy and wishful thinking. Above all, democratic goals and objectives must be clear, measurable and realistic based on vision and mission through which goals and objectives will be achieved.
Worth noting is that, even within the democratic system, politics remains a struggle for power. It is on those premises that politics may be understood as activities related to governance. Furthermore, politics is a practice and theory of influencing people on what to do. By its nature, politics is an art and science of government concerned with directing and influencing government policies and activities. As individuals, societies and communities are bound to have diverse views, so is politics. It is the political diverse views that made politics to be defined as a struggle for power.
I strongly believe that, political diverse views always add value on what is on the cards. It is politically diverse views that necessitate the need to have different political parties in any democratic setting. The political diverse views are not antagonistic aspects. It is always healthy to have different views as that will help to shape and provide different alternatives of what is wanted and how best it can be achieved.
Democracy is the voice of the people through secret voting. However, democracy may be viewed as undemocratic more so when one did not win. But democracy is not all about winning, it is about losing as well. Democracy is not about equal and proportionate sharing the political cake, but how a cake was democratically cut by the electorate. In the process of cutting the political democratic cake, the likelihood is that, some will get more while some will get less or nothing at all. As expected, those who will get more will say, democracy has worked. On the contrary, those who will get less or nothing, will describe it undemocratic.
But as earlier alluded to, there is no win/ win scenario in political competition. There is always a win/lose situation. All political parties do always compete to win. But it is crystal clear that, those political parties who imparted appealing messages to the electorate will get high percentage of votes. In the aftermath of winning, they will make others lose the race. The point to note is, even though there shall be no proportionate cutting of the cake during elections, there are always chances that some participating political parties may get their shares from the cake.
Much of the return will depend on the value of the political messages and how much energy they have unleashed to people during the campaign. Sustainable democracy is exercised with national interests at heart. Against this backdrop, once a cake is cut by the electorate, political parties have to know that their country and people are bigger than political parties. The crux of the matter is, who he cultivates less, reaps less.
We spoke that democracy is about electorate, elections, message of appeal, win/ lose, struggle for power, accountability, delivery and all the rest. But more importantly, democracy is about setting a clear agenda on how to ensure effective service delivery. I have been very keen to follow to political developments across the globe. Some of those developments are more driven by political parties as opposed to the would-be elected leaders. Whilst both versions are based on democratic principles to achieve political goals, in my view, there are some that are worth emulating while others seem to be flawed.
Even though democratic systems do differ from country to country, it is ideal to take a quick glance on what is currently happening in the United States of America (USA) South Africa and in the United Kingdom (UK). For a couple of months, we have seen individual political leaders in USA relentlessly crisscrossing the vastness of that country imparting and appealing to the electorate to vote for them for the nominations before the Presidential elections on November 8 2016. The same tedious exercise will continue after the nomination as running Presidential candidates will have to expend the energy till November elections. They will spend their remaining time and energy communicating their messages to the public about what they have in store for them and not what their parties have for them.
… Continues next week
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